29 November 2016 –
UNICEF Australia welcomes the Victorian Government’s decision to remove Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from Barwon Prison and urges the Victorian Government to now urgently consider options to remove all children from the adult detention facility.
“Children do not belong in adult prison facilities, let alone a maximum security adult jail. As conditions in the Northern Territory have recently demonstrated to us again, punitive and control-based systems are costly, ineffective and extremely harmful to vulnerable youth,” said Amy Lamoin, Head of Policy and Advocacy, UNICEF Australia.
Ms Lamoin said that mounting evidence shows that Australia is falling short of basic international standards to protect children in detention.
“The purpose of a youth justice system is to rehabilitate and reintegrate children who are found guilty of offences. Australia needs national standards and improved monitoring and oversight to ensure children are receiving the appropriate care,” she said.
“Youth detainees should always be placed in an environment which provides for the effective rehabilitation of young people, staffed by qualified personnel and with access to child-specific services. Punitive measures continue a no-win cycle for children and the community.”
This development has occurred on the eve of a Supreme Court challenge in Victoria.
“Today’s development is a timely reminder of the critical importance of Aboriginal Legal Services and legal advocates who help protect the rights of vulnerable children and families in our communities,” said Ms Lamoin.
For further information and interviews, please contact:
Nicole Mackey, UNICEF Australia, 0403 964 334, firstname.lastname@example.org
Nicole Lawrence, UNICEF Australia, 0419 748 624, email@example.com
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